California Wines + Value = OxyMORON

As any of my blog readers must know by now, I favor Washington State red wines over California because I believe they provide a better Q.P.R. (Quality to Price Ratio) for the consumer. During the past holiday season I had a chance to demonstrate to wine consumers how much old NAPA VALLEY BRAINWASHING plays a role in their wine buying habits. Of course during this season, the drug reps, the doctors, lawyers all the employees picking up a special gift for their employer or colleagues were out shopping in droves, shouting out in an auctioneer type voice all the California Heavy Hitter Brand Names that run between $60 and $100 per bottle. I heard : “Where’s your Caymus”? “Do have Cakebread”? “How much is Jordan or Silver Oak”? “How much for a case of Opus One”? This especially applies to what the guests call “A Big Napa Cab”. I happened to have a bottle open of the brand new vintage 2008 Fall Line Yakima Valley 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rated 91 points buy Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. I was testing it for my own personal review. Normally, in previous vintages Fall Line Cabs require lots and lots of decanting before you can approach them. This 2008 had aromas of Lavender, and Black Berry fruits and Asian spices. On my palate the wine was silky, fruit driven and the tannins were ripe on my palate. This was a beauty. Fall Line Winery is owned and operated by winemaker Tim Sorenson and his wife, Nancy Rivenburgh. They are both retired College Professors now focusing 100% on wine. They only produce 2,000 cases of this particular wine. I thought for every guest who barked out one of those big name expensive Napa Cabs I would educate them as to how much Psychology plays a role. I poured them a sample of the Fall Line but I told them it was an $80 Napa Cabernet. They tasted it and each one said the same response: “Wow, that’s a steal for only $80. That’s better than any Napa Cab I have ever tasted and I will take a bottle” I then revealed, it wasn’t a Napa Cab but a 2008 100% Cabernet with no blending from Washington State and I would assume even more of a “Steal” for $27.99 a bottle. Their jaws dropped. They said “That wine is only $27.99?” I replied “Now you know why I stand on my soap box everyday and tout Washington State Wines” Some took 6 bottles, some took a case and will be back for more. Their final goodbye was: “In all my years of buying Big Napa Cabs, I never thought you can get a wine of that quality and elegance for under $80 a bottle” It only proved my point that a lot of it is old habits, brand addiction, not being exposed to the wonderful wines of Washington State but 90% of the reason is because it was all in your head!

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